QTMs, 2/25/17: “HOW’S THAT ‘HEALING’ THING WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA?”

When I first heard The Voice in my left ear asking, “Do you want to be healed?”, I had no idea what was involved when I answered, “Yes.”

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Since that early February Sunday 14 years ago, I’ve been learning some things.

  • God’s healing is always a matter of ‘through’.  There’s always something God wants to do when He heals a person that extends beyond their own individual case.  It’s meant to work in and through them, benefitting more than just the one He touches.  In the Gospel accounts of Jesus healing people, there were always others around.

If you’ve experienced God’s healing touch, ask yourself:  “Who were those other people around me when God healed me–what happened in their lives, too?”  You may not know the answer to that Earthside, yet it’s worth thinking about.  Your healing wasn’t just for you.

  • God’s healing is often in response to somebody’s prayer besides yours.  The minute it became clear I was dying, I began praying for God’s intervention.  I’ve never prayed with more focus nor singlemindedness.  I prayed and kept dying.  More laser focus and singlemindedness.  Still dying by ounces.  Okay, this faith deal wasn’t working as advertised or I was doing something wrong, though I quoted and claimed every verse about trusting in God I could find.  I spoke all those powerful verses about God being able to do ANYTHING.  Just kept dying, and if anything getting worse.

I complained.

God:  “It wasn’t your prayer I was waiting to hear.” 

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I didn’t find out until later that both my wife and my son, in separate instances, finally gave up and said something like, “Okay, God.  If You’re going to take him, just do it.  Either that or heal him.  I can’t take any more of this watching him being repeatedly cut open, carved on and still starving to death!”  It was when they both reached that point of total surrender to what God was wanting to do – either way – that I heard The Voice that Sunday morning as I sat quietly, eyes closed, listening to a song.

  • God’s healing is unique, individually customized to each recipient’s need.  I always figured healed meant, well–healed.  You know.  Total restoration?  Nothing left undone.  Everything back the way it had been, only better.  New and improved.  Brand new.  For me, that meant instantly being transformed back into the 6′, 250-lb. strongman I’d been.  Able to leap garden sheds with a short stepladder.  Well, at least I could still pick one end of it up.  If you’re big and strong enough to move the shed, you don’t need to jump over it.

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God had other ideas.  From His exhaustless bag of Celestial Stuff He gave me back a somewhat-marginalized 180-lb., 5’10 body.  Having always been muscular, I pouted, “I can’t lift up garden sheds anymore.”  God gently slid His huge arm around my now-kind-of-scrawny shoulders and said, “I’ve other things I want you to be lifting from now on.”

“I want you to lift other people’s spirits and attitudes by your writing and speaking.  I’d never have gotten your attention long enough to stick with this gift, had I returned to you the body you had.”  God’s healing is never found on the BOGO table.  It’s as unique and personal as you are.

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  • God’s healing always occurs at least in part in ways defying human description and understanding.  God uses stunning combinations of rational and irrational, known and unknown, human and Divine help in His healing artistry.  You’ve heard and read story after story how people came through otherwise normal treatments with anything-but-normal results no one could explain.  Surgeons, med techs, RNs, and specialists all did pretty much the same thing they’d done hundreds of times before – yet here came jaw-dropping, billboard-changing results NObody could have anticipated.

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Then there are the other times when God steps in, revealing a raw, shockwaving power unknown to our world but natural in His.  That’s what happened with me.  Nothing could have prepared me or my family for what God began that day, though we were people of God and strong believers in prayer.  None of us have been quite the same.  Even those who have since chosen to walk apart from God and His Word know – KNOW – His power to heal.

So you ask, “How’s that healing thing workin’ out for ya?”  Day by day, friend.  You see, this thing I’m living in is medically impossible.  What God began that February Sunday back in ‘o3 continues every morning.  I know – we all know – if God decided He was done with whatever He had in mind in working through me, it would only be a matter of weeks and I’d go see Him.

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I don’t expect that, though.  Know why?  There are still stories for me to write.  You know the kind:  those that always seem to have a strange sense of Heaven woven into them in ways not pushy but definitely pointing the reader to God.  There are still many posts to compose that elevate and lift and encourage and challenge.  There are books needing to be written and published.

Well, there is that other deal.  I promised God two things when He healed me.  First, that I’d never bore anyone with ‘just another story’.   But, next, that I’d never let any chance go by to tell someone a little of my story.  God’s not done doing stuff in His world – and I’m a walking, talking testimony of it!

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How’s the healing thing workin’ out?  Exactly how God wants it.  Each day’s a new adventure.  Each comment in response to something I’ve written, or each time I’ve spoken, opens just that many more windows of thought.

It’s a thing of joy just to be alive and share them!

© D. Dean Boone, February 2017

 

 

 

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2nd Cup for 2/23/17: I WANT TO BE ADDITIVE.

Survivors of life-threatening experiences are the same in one amazing way:  they are fearless in their desire to squeeze as much joy out of each day’s living as is possible.

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G’mornin’,  friend.  Help yourself to a piping hot, fresh cup of Tanzanian Peaberry.  Those of you who’ve been 2nd Cuppers from way back will instantly relax, recognizing this opening as the type you learned to expect several times each week.  A few of you learned of some coffee roasts you didn’t know existed.

Those were interesting days, weren’t they?  I’d just come through some life-threatening challenges of my own, and was in the beginning stages of learning how to be an effective writer.  I thought our old greeting might be appropriate for this morning’s thoughts.  Come on in and have a seat.  I’ve some things to share with you.

I recognize several other common traits in fellow survivors.  They

  • look you in the eye
  • rarely suffer fools at all
  • tend to look out for each other
  • neither enjoy nor encourage small talk
  • usually have tough, gritty, practical faith
  • are not intimidated by much of anything
  • don’t whine, and resist hanging with those who do
  • cheerfully tackle residual health challenges head on

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Interacting with one of these unforgettable people always leaves me feeling stronger and more able to cope with my own challenges.  Last night was no exception.

I knew what to look for.  She saw the question in my eyes, answering, “Well, it was such a nice day I wanted to get outside.  So I decided to do some gardening.”  I responded with a gentle smile.  Who am I to find fault?  I do the same things.

Was it too much?  Yeah.  Did she overextend herself?  Probably.  Will she do it again?  Sure.  See, it’s what a mentor once called ‘The Learning Edge’, by which he meant that mental/emotional/spiritual/physical boundary one can’t cross without inviting diminishing returns.  It’s the point one stretches toward to find out where The Learning Edge is today.  Survivors are always stretching toward it, seeking, probing, perhaps extending an extra 3 inches here, 34 minutes longer there.  Trying one more time to walk.  To pick something up.  1000 more words.  Another page.  The additional chore accomplished.

It’s easy to scold.  “Why weren’t you more careful?  Why’d you keep going when you felt the first sign of _________?”  It’s well-meant, and from loving concern.  Yet to think I know where today’s Learning Edge is, anticipate it, and pull back, slow down, withdraw or quit short is to shrink both my real Learning Edge, and my own desire to keep exploring, pushing and seeking, celebrating this day of life God’s given to me.

That I won’t do.  Nor have I ever known a fellow survivor who will.

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I found this little thought-jewel while reading several days ago.  It grabbed my flitting mind like a jogger’s suspender getting caught on the side mirror of a passing Mini Cooper.

I want to be additive.

I jotted it down, saving it for just the right application.  I can think of no finer definition of the spirit, the intent of every survivor I’ve been blessed – am being blessed – to know.

I want to be additive.

There’s enough discord, self-centeredness, raging immaturity, and detrimental agendas in our world.  Enough manipulative impudence, sinister strategies, destructive hypocrisies and rampaging lawlessness.  Enough that strips from us our will to overcome those forces that subtract so much that’s kind, decent, good and worthwhile from our lives.

Enough.

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In the spirit of every survivor of death-dealing illness, disease and disaster, I confess that I, too, have seen and heard quite enough that keeps trying to subtract.  I’ve neither time nor interest in being part of it.  It’s part of our world, it’s going to be there.  I don’t need to think, do or say anything to help it survive.

In the lives, experiences and journeys of any over whom I have any influence, my choice is clear.

I want to be additive.

© D. Dean Boone, February 2017

 

 

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QTMs, 2/21/17: YEAH, I DID, TOO.

One of the few things a religious zealot accomplishes is to reassure those he’s trying to convince that they want nothing to do with him or whatever model of Jesus he’s peddling.

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We are moving into the Lenten season, the lead-up to Easter Sunday.  I know you know that.  Easter bunnies, dancing eggs and fake grass is the latest Walmart cash crop.  It’s annoyingly commercial even for nonChristians, but it’s more fun to buy brightly-colored plastic eggs than to invest in a DVD of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.  Who wants to be reminded of THAT?

No one wants to be driven to the Cross.  I’ve met no one yet in the history of Always who loves being harangued about them being Hellbound.

No one seems much to want to be drawn to Christ, either.  This presents a dilemma, since God left us clear directions that the only way to Him is through the Person and saving work of Jesus on the Cross and in His Resurrection.

So how do I, as a man who’s made Jesus Lord of my life, present Christ to those who don’t know Him?  This morning’s quiet time involved shutting up and listening.

Here’s Paul . . .

“I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.” – Galatians 2:19-20, The Message

Ah.  There it is.  “My ego is no longer central.  It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God.”


MY EGO IS NO LONGER CENTRAL.


Now, stop.  Relax.  You’re going to have to choose for yourself.  All I’ll say here is that in counseling others, usually in a business and professional setting, I make this statement.

Without a healthy ego, little of worth gets done.  It’s okay to have an ego–but it had better not have you.

I know you’ve had someone sincerely Christ’s overdo it in trying to ‘get you saved’.  It’s messy, isn’t it?  It’s also dangerous; the tendency of the hearer is to conveniently toss both messenger and message out the nearest window.

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As a young Christian, I tried keeping rules, too.  I didn’t know any better.  “My Church won’t let me” worked for awhile.  Soon, though, I needed to quit hiding behind that and decide who – or Whose – I really wanted to be.

As we step across the threshold from the popular love of Valentine’s Day into the season of powerful love that changes lives and homes and destinies, I know of no plainer nor stronger position than these words from Paul:

“I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me.”

Simple, right?  Just keep laying my ego, my desire to be liked and appreciated, at Jesus’s feet.  Let Him be free to do in and through me whatever He knows is best in order to make His Lordship winsome to others, drawing them to Himself through observing my living.

That’s all.

© D. Dean Boone, February 2017

 

 

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2nd Cup for 2/14/17: “WHO LOVES YA, BABY?”

Anyone can love somebody who loves them back.  We know that.  No big deal.  There are people whose personalities let them almost default to a devoted, loving attitude even while their hearts are lacerated and bruised.  One would need to know them well to discern the little ‘tells’ of their woundedness.
 “Oh.  Then it’s easy for them, right?”
 No.  It’s harder.  They love by choice, deeply and by intent, because that’s what Romans 12:9-10 directs.  Yet because their basic setting is to be loving, they do not quickly sense within themselves the normal reactions to having one’s love abused:  resentment, dislike, distance and an unwillingness to allow it to happen again.
 “So, when they finally do . . .”  Damage has been done and things are different.  A young soldier who’s had his arm blown off understands.  A young woman with both legs gone from an accident understands.  They survived, yet the cost?  “We can just go back to the way things were.”  No.  With therapy and practice, the prosthetic arm and legs will serve; but things will never be as they were.
Here is where God helps championship lovers show their stuff.  Knowing things aren’t the same, they step up and do their best, anyway.  
 “Okay, how?” 
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it . . . Be good friends who love deeply” (Romans 12:9-10).
“Keep your eyes open; hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
“Love one another as if your lives depended on it” (1 Peter 1:22).
“Love makes up for practically anything” (1 Peter 4:8)
 Remember:  it was Peter who said that.  Yeah, the Ultimate Denier; the one who contracted potty mouth when he was pressed about him being a Jesus freak.
 So.  On this Valentine’s Day, if you have somebody loving you that could’ve stopped, thank God for it–for them.  Appreciate them.  I’m just guessing, here; but I think this might be a little more pervasive than we might think.
 They may never gush or be permanently set on Auto-Compliment like they once were.  Yet if their love is still genuine and flows?
Happy Valentines Day.
© D. Dean Boone, 2/14/17
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Q(uiet) T(ime) M(usings) for 2/13/17: LOVE THAT WON’T GO AWAY

The devotional verse was waiting in my inbox this morning:  Lord, I praise you for your steadfast love and faithfulness. Because of your great mercy, you are not one to hold back your steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 40:11).” 

As usual, I checked the verse out in The Message.  “Now, God, don’t hold out on me, don’t hold back your passion.  Your love and truth are all that keeps me going.”

With Valentine’s Day lurking, my thoughts went to the nature of God’s love versus ours.  In this life we tend to think of ourselves as the top of the heap, the epitome of all Creation.  Our ideas, then, relating to love are the best.  Most.  Brightest.  If you and I haven’t thought of it, it’s not worth considering.  Right?

My habit when reading Scripture is to read in context around a particular verse.  It didn’t take long doing that to be humbled.  Here are verses 4-5 of that same chapter.

“Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,” ignore what the world worships.  The world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts.  Nothing and no one comes close to You!  I start talking about You, telling what I know, and quickly run out of words.  Neither numbers nor words account for You.”

When it comes to loving, I’d like to think I’m pretty good at it.  I’m not fickle.  I like plenty of people, yet I’m stingy with my love.  And the more intense is my love for another, the more stubborn I am in being true to it.  It takes a lot to convince me my love’s not wanted.  Eventually, though, if consistently rebuffed enough, it sinks in and I back off.

You’re probably like that, too.

God’s not.  His perfect love never diminishes, not in the least.  Even in the extreme case of a person telling Him, “I’m through with You, your people and your Jesus.  I never want to hear of you, them or him again.  You go your way and I’ll go mine.”  It’s the measure of The Creator’s great love – the last, most loving example of it – that when God knows that person means it, He’ll honor that request–all the while loving that man or woman just as much as ever.

Paul’s right.  You can turn your back on God’s love and sever your relationship with Him.  Yank your hand out of His and walk away.  But nothing you’ll ever think, do, be or say will ever separate you from His magnificent love.

Nothing.

An unknown writer put it this way:  The best love is the one that makes you a better person, without changing you into someone other than yourself. 

So if you’re hunting for a pattern of how to love in this life?  God’s the best example I know.

I love you, and I believe in you.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

© D. Dean Boone, February 2017

 

 

 

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QTMs for 2/11/17: WHEN GOD GOES, “NEENER.”

“You can’t do that.”

“That can’t happen.”

“Impossible.”

“Hm-mm.  No way.”

I know the looks.  After 12 years, I can feel them.  I hear the unspoken asides.  “He’s having you on, mate.  There’s nothing wrong with him.  Look at ‘im.  Does he look to you like any of that stuff really happened?”

“You don’t look, y’know . . .”

What?  Sick?  Impaired?  Limited?  Disabled?  The saying goes, “If you’ve ever been there you need no explanation.  If you haven’t, you wouldn’t believe it, anyway.”  To a survivor of life-threatening disease and ongoing chronic illness, you have no idea what hurts statements like that cause.

Yes, there are a host of people who game the assistance system.  They are professional moochers who have nothing in common with the tremendous, gutsy people I know who live daily with the results of ongoing, even progressive chronic illness.  So get those moochies out of your mind.

“But you don’t look . . .  y’know—”  Would it make you feel better if I did look weird?  Drag one leg, have three ears?

No.  I don’t.  I don’t try to, don’t want to.  Though I’ve rated a ‘Disabled’ tag for a dozen years, I refuse to have one.  I can walk.  Do yard work.  Help neighbors.  Sure, I wear out fast, but rather than focus on what I no longer have or can’t do, I’d rather keep reaching for what I now have and CAN do.

So, no.  I’m not trying to look puny and infirmed.  You can’t see the 20 years’ worth of external, internal and emotional scars because I don’t walk around naked and you can’t see inside.  I don’t walk around looking pitiful, trolling for sympathy.

That’s the point.  I’m alive, functioning, IV free and so blessed I’m having to write a book to help me process it–and help you understand it.

In a nutshell, I’m gutless.  God issued me around 21 feet of nifty, new small intestine, of which I have 18 inches left.  The rest of it died.  Fast.  No cancer.  It sure acted like it, though.  After each surgical resect to stay ahead of the necrosis, once air hit it, it was, “Here we go again!”   It meant business, and almost killed me three times before my top-drawer, world-class surgeon double-teamed with my amazing personal doctor to pin the Small Bowel Adhesion Disease and defeat it.

Never heard of it?  You’re in good company.  I think they made it up because they hadn’t encountered it quite like that before and didn’t know what to call it.

I can’t explain why God chose me to heal, back in early February of 2003.  There was nothing noteworthy about my life or accomplishments that jumped up and down with both hands raised, yelling, “ME!  ME!  PICK ME, GOD!”  I just know when The Master stopped by and dropped that Forever pebble in my pool, everything changed.

All the medical pros agreed I wasn’t supposed to survive.  I’m still not.  I am disabled.  Small intestines don’t grow back.  Yes, I still have several challenging chronic issues with which I daily live.  They’re part of my ‘now’.

But, YES–I’m ridiculously, undeservedly blessed to be living and able to write encouragement into your day!  I can’t explain it any better than to say this.

Sometimes God just decides to say, “Neener,” and does things for His own reasons.

And I think He does it to remind us:  Where GOD is concerned, ain’t no such thing as ‘impossible’.

His response?  “Keep your eyes on Me, stop doubting, and you watch Me.”

© D. Dean Boone, February 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

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QTMs for 1/27/17: DON’T SAY THAT TO MY FACE

Don’t say it at all. 

I’m grieved at the rude, disrespectful manner of interpersonal contact that’s become commonplace on social media, specifically on Facebook.

Its very name connotes familiarity and thoughtful reflection.  ‘Face’ and ‘book’ each draw a mental picture.  ‘Face’ brings a smile and faraway look as one remembers an easy, relaxed visit over coffee while sitting across the table from a friend.  ‘Book’ carries an idea of the calmness of eyes tracking across a trail of words, pausing to consider; the scent of ideas captured in cages of ink and parchment; the hushed rusking of paper pages edged with the fine golden DNA of generations of fingers. 

This is not targeting Facebook any more than any other social medium.  I am pointing up an issue with those using it forgetting that every message they send reaches a living soul, not just an impersonal icon.

Too much of the Facebook I see daily is neither.  The relative anonymity of profile pictures has prodded an erosion of decency, courtesy and manners.  Those are not old concepts; they are timeless mature ones. 

Information, lightheartedness and mutual encouragement is good.  Desecration of character, depletion of decency, and destruction of friendships is a rotting social tumor, a disastrous and ugly commentary on a society’s lowest common denominator.

Memes are informative, thoughtful, hilarious, embarrassingly accurate, inspirational and challenging.  They are also increasingly boundless in their disgusting, tasteless, self-serving, profane and sometimes lawless content. 

This is primarily a writing venue.  Plenty of movie clips abound – too many.  The complaint I most often hear regarding personal pictures and video clips is, “WHO ON EARTH CARES?”  Writing takes thought and time.  Foul-mouthed slang, gutter language and mutual insults don’t belong on open Facebook.  FB may allow it, but the rest of us don’t need to read or hear it.  Private Messaging is there for a reason.  If you’ve a general message you feel we all need to read, think about how to present it–and clean up your act.  All you’ll do by keeping it up is to restrict your own audience.

What to do?

It’s not a do; it’s a BE.  What you think and say derives from what you are.

A recent meme read, “PRACTICE POSITIVITY.  START A ‘NO-COMPLAINTS-FOR-24-HOURS’ POLICY.”  Yeah.  Instead of immediately letting, “Oh, YEAH?  Well, —–” be your first reaction and letting fly with the first thing popping into your head, school yourself to pay more and more attention to working on responding instead of reacting

Ever notice how “LIKE” sometimes doesn’t fit?  Facebook figured that out, offering a few options.  Yet there’s a large coulee between a quick-click response on an impersonal icon, and going to private messaging to respond with some personal thoughts, shared as friends should:  both private and careful.

The 24-hour hiatus on complaining sounds like a great idea.  Consider it Retort Reform.  Instead of immediately whining and retaliating from behind the safety of today’s Profile Picture when something negative hits your hot button?  Consider keeping quiet, thinking it through and coming up with some possible alternatives addressing the situation instead of attacking the other person(s).

Where death is concerned, there are no guarantees.  Yet many of us are at the age where every month may bring news of someone we knew or went to school with dying.  Too much of Facebook flickers across the ‘Net at half the speed of good sense.  The possibility exists that a hot or grouchy retort may be the last thing they read from you. 

Suggestions, then.  How about using a common-sense filter before posting something? 

  • Is what you’re getting ready to SEND me something you’d sit across a friendly table and say to me?  If years have separated us, you don’t know my story, my journey, my back trail.  I don’t know yours.  Open Facebook is not the place to get personal, especially when you’ve no idea what impact your words will have.  Things you say/write can have unintended consequences.
  • Is what you’re writing something you’d allow me to say to your face?  If so, how would you say it?  Saying something a few feet from the other person who can visibly and audibly respond is much different than hurriedly keying it and mashing ‘SEND’.
  • Is what you’re writing necessary?  I’ve caught myself ambling through The Sleepless Lonelies and wondering who’s on Facebook?  Reclining in bed, brain propped on an elbow, it’s easy to dither.  As a writer, I find myself editing thoughts and ideas, most of which never reach my keyboard.  Nah, I don’t need to say that.  Few will pay any attention to it, and it’s not necessary anyway.  Move along; nothing to see here.  No surprise that there’s way too much info bombarding us.  Right?  Adding to it with no purpose just makes it worse.  When asked, ‘Aren’t you going to say something?” an old guy said, “Not unless it’ll improve the silence.”

We differ about things.  That’s the beauty of being unique individuals.  We can do that while becoming better friends, and by working to understand and accept each other’s individuality.

We’ve all been friends for too long to do otherwise.

© D. Dean Boone, January 2017

 

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QTMs for 1/20/17: IT IS BY GRACE… ALL OF IT.

Can’t stop this.

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Grace, the God kind.  You can divert it, deflect it, dodge it, even ignore it.  You can’t stop it.  It’s as much a part of God as light.  Grace – God’s grace – is as limitless as Eternity.

When I was in the third or fourth grade we lived for a short time at the end of a little country lane back behind Buck’s Corner.  I’m sure it was a rental, but that never mattered to me.  What did was the little bit of pasture where the landlord’s cow lived; for  back at the far end was a small irrigation ditch.  I put up with caring-for-the-cow chores so I had access to that ditch.

Water skippers, crawdads, cool, flowing water, rolled-up pants legs and bare feet . . .  to a kid, is there anything better?

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That little ditch in an obscure, now-changed-and-gone spot in eastern Oregon was my first introduction to how Grace is.

There was a cement diversion gate into which a weathered piece of thick plywood could be shoved to get water to the pasture – and our garden.  My dad told me to leave it alone because the flow was too strong for me to get the plywood back out and I’d flood the garden.

You see where this is going.

Grace is like that.  We’re saved by it (Ephesians 2:8).  We love one another through it.  We share in it together (Philippians 1:7).  It gives us strength and we grow in it (2 Timothy 2:1, 2 Peter 3:18).  God’s grace is the mending glue for broken hearts, broken lives, broken dreams.  It’s His grace, continuously and effortlessly flowing from God’s very presence (Hebrews 4:16) that gives you and I, fellow believer, what it takes to carry on.

Absorb this lyric by Matt West . . .

There’s a war between guilt and grace
And they’re fighting for a sacred space
But I’m living proof
Grace wins every time
No more lying down in death’s defeat
Now I’m rising up in victory
Singing hallelujah
Grace wins every time
Words can’t describe the way it feels
When mercy floods a thirsty soul
A broken side begins to heal
And grace returns what guilt has stole . . .

For the prodigal son, grace wins
For the woman at the well, grace wins
For the blind man and the beggar, grace wins
For always and forever, grace wins
For the lost out on the street, grace wins
For the worst part of you and me, grace wins
For the thief on the cross, grace wins
For a world that is lost, grace wins! 

Grace Wins lyrics © Atlas Music Publishing
You’re getting this, right?  I had to learn the lesson that I could easily shove that hunk of plywood down into the cement grooves if I was quick.  Getting it out was another story that my tender backside told and retold.
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 I never knew the source of that water; it just flowed on and on. I could no more stop the flow of that little irrigation ditch than you or I can plug the incessant, neverending, exhaustless flow of  grace.
God’s grace is like that.  And how to describe it?  “Amazing”?  There aren’t enough adjectives.  None.  Grace is infinitely more expansive than any description.
Can’t stop it, can’t describe it.  That’s God’s grace.
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Jam the plywood down in your soul if you want.  You can try to disprove what God the Father tells you.  All you’ll do is divert all that limitless flowing grace that empowers and helps believers overcome to all those around you.  Just yesterday, Pastor Paula White-Cain prayed over our new President and our nation for God to grant us “the grace to unify us”.
Nope.  This grace stuff?  Can’t stop it.  And there’s nothing more powerful nor more vital you can receive.  May as well get to using it, letting it flow over and through you.
  “Infuse your life with action.  Don’t wait for it to happen.  Make it happen.  Make your own future.  Make your own hope.  Make your own love.  And whatever your beliefs, honor your Creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from on high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen . . .  Yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.” ~ Bradley Whitford
© D. Dean Boone, January 2017
Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Tell-A-Story-Make-A-Point | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

QTMs for 1/19/17: BBAR!

I woke up this morning.

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I breathed freely, got up without pain, did all the morning things without thinking about it.  I’m walking, seeing, hearing, thinking.  I’m eating a hearty breakfast – and enjoying fresh, hot joe – as I write, able to absorb enough to remain in what is for me normal good health.

I take none of that for granted, for at one time I expected little of it.

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I am BBAR:  BLESSED BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION!  And I’m grateful to God for the ability and desire to say so.

Anybody can complain.  Whining takes no talent.

Every person living faces challenges and obstacles.  They’re the stuff of life.  The fact you have them means you’re alive and functioning–and can decide what to do with them.


BLESSED BEYOND ALL RECOGNITION!


You can’t foresee your challenges, but you CAN decide how to use them.  Bellyaching is a waste of your time and everyone else’s patience.  Don’t spend any more time thinking about them than it takes to recognize them and begin deciding on your strategy to overcome them.

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If you’re a Christian, Romans 8:37 applies to you.  It means overcoming – overwhelming victory – is always God’s first-best option available to you.

I don’t care what you’re facing right now, fellow believer.  God says that with His help, you can overcome through it; that it’ll be nothing unique that others haven’t experienced and been helped to overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13), and that God can and will make that challenge become a building block in creating your dream, working out for your eventual betterment and His glory (Romans 8:28).

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So.  Get on with creating your story!  It’s as unique as you are, and you need to tell it.  Know why?  The same people who ran screaming from your grousing will flock to listen to how God’s helping you overcome.

A suggestion:  You know that light at the end of the tunnel?  Quit waiting around for it; instead, run out there and light it!  Someone else needs to see it, too–maybe more urgently than you!

©  D. Dean Boone, January 2017

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

QTMs for 1/7/17: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO

Sunday.Image result for coffee and Sunday worship

Specifically, the second Sunday in January.  People are still trickling back from wherever they’ve been for the holidays, winter travel is making tempers short and anxiety soar.  Back-to-work deadlines loom.  Piled-up tasks sneer:  “We don’t back off for no stinkin’ holidays!”

Image result for 1st Nazarene Church Wichita live streamingWorship attendance is sketchy as plans to attend ride the icy north winds into next week.  “We watched the service streaming live.

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Pastor Tim had the music thing goin’ on with Open Up The Heavens, the choir sounded super with that song about Jesus, and Pastor Brent was fired up about God actually listening to us as we’re praying!  It was wonderful.”

There’s a reason those things occur when they do.  God always knows just when to make those ‘something special’ things happen.  Let me tell you about one of them.

Wednesday night choir practice rarely has the entire choir there.  Last Wednesday was no exception:  there were a handful when we began singing, and by the time we were ready to go out and run through our song with the orchestra, a few more who’d been involved with other ministries joined us so there were 25 or so.

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We were doing the normal stuff of practice–watching notes, listening to each other, acting as if we’re paying attention to the director, comparing and frowning and bantering about arrangers who seem to overlook the fact that not everyone is a lyric tenor or soaring soprano.  You know.  Normal choir stuff.

Then it happened.

We were working on Prestonwood’s arrangement of “Something Happens”, and it did.  “Je–sus . . . something special, supernatural about Your name.  Je–sus . . . something happens when I mention Your name . . . .  When I call upon Your name, the very atmosphere will have to change . . .”

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We’d just finished a particularly demanding part and some of us were talking back and forth about the high pitch, so we didn’t hear her at first.  One of the altos was on her feet, hand raised, trying to articulate with a broken voice the surge of love, devotion and appreciation for who Jesus is, and what He’s done in her life.  “Je–sus . . . something special . . .”

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He was.  He came in His awe-striking, limitless, intense flow of spiritual energy and poured Living Water onto our parched souls that night.  It wasn’t the director, though he’s unmatched in his ability.  It wasn’t the “go-to” singers, though everyone in the choir has a wonderful voice and routinely uses it to glorify God and enhance our worship experience.  It wasn’t while we were out with our terrific orchestra.

If it had, we’d probably mark it up to our talents, slap each other on the back and go do lunch.  It is, after all, possible to take God’s presence among us for granted.  So it didn’t happen then, just like Jesus didn’t come when and how we thought He would, showing up in obscure Bethlehem.

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It happened last Wednesday in the small chapel when a choir member, overflowing with the frisson of meaning and buoyant in praise, stood–and with hands raised and tears streaming, gave witness to the powerful truth about which we were singing.

Take a moment and look it up on YouTube.  Listen to  Something Special by The Best Of Prestonwood 2.

That’s what happened.  It doesn’t happen every week, but it’s happened before.  It’s because the One about and for whom we sing is always welcome among us.  That’s why Sunday’s choir number will be unusual.  That’s why more than a few of us will be struggling to sing past our tears.

That’s why you’ll want to make the effort to brave the freezing temps to be there.

I think it’ll happen again.

I think He’ll happen again.

© D. Dean Boone, January 2017

 

 

 

 

Categories: Encouragement, Inspirational | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment